HC Deb 06 April 1943 vol 388 cc492-3
49. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that it is the intention of the Government eventually to restore to private enterprise undertakings which have been purchased by the State in the name of increased war production?

53. Mr. Astor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider a procedure whereby, in cases where the shares of a firm are compulsorily acquired under war-time measures without the consent of the shareholders, they should be held in trust during the war and, after the war, offered to the former shareholders at a price fixed by a similar procedure to that whereby they were acquired?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Kingsley Wood)

I have been asked to reply. I am not clear precisely for what purpose my hon. Friend the Member for East Fulham (Mr. Astor) suggests the creation of a trust. Where shares are acquired to secure effective control of an undertaking they are transferred to the Treasury Solicitor and held by him on behalf of the Government. The disposal of the shares cannot be very well dis- sociated from the larger question of disposal of property and assets of various kinds acquired or created by the Government during the war. On this point, as I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth on 1st April (Sir A. Russell), the question is receiving preliminary study, but decisions as to the scope and method of such disposals will depend upon a variety of circumstances and considerations which cannot be fully assessed at the present time, including, of course, the possibility of changes in the nature and value of the assets while they have been in Government hands.

Mr. Simmonds

Is it not a fact that the trade unions have received from the Government a formal assurance as to the restitution of their proper rights after hostilities, and does not my right hon. Friend think that both equity and constitutional government demand that a similar assurance should be given to private enterprise?

Sir K. Wood

I think the Prime Minister has covered a good deal of that in his reply.

Mr. Astor

Will my right hon. Friend give existing shareholders receipts for the shares when they are taken over, so that they will be able to put forward a claim for them subsequently?

Sir K. Wood

I will consider that.